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The Kingsland Ward at St. Johns, Brooklyn, New York

Whether you are coming to New York for a visit or have lived here for years, do yourself a favor and head to Brooklyn to experience one of the most unique theatre productions in the city.

Then She Fell is a site-specific immersive labyrinth where, for two hours, you are one of fifteen guests to meander through the century-old institutional building-turned-theatrical hospital called Kingsland Ward.

Once inside, you are transported into the late 1800s/early 1900s, where everything from the meticulous stage design and set pieces to the choreography and haunting sound design is executed with the most brilliant attention to detail that it will leave an impression long after you leave the asylum walls.

Upon arrival, you are met with a nurse who checks you into the hospital/show. You are then taken to the doctor’s waiting room, where you are given an elixir and a set of keys to explore within the many rooms you will be ushered into. These rooms house items and characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, weaving a powerfully cohesive story of duality, falling, and loss of self.

Many of the characters you’d expect to find in a work inspired by Lewis Carroll are present, either in form or in reference: Alice, the Red Queen, the Mad Hatter, the Jabberwocky, the Cheshire Cat, and mirrors – lots and lots of mirrors.

As much as this is an exploration with dance and storytelling through Alice’s adventures, it is also a story about the man behind these popular children’s books: Charles Dodgson, more famously known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll.

Throughout the piece, we are given information about the man and his relationship with the Liddell family and their youngest daughter Alice. Through letters and recordings, we are informed about an unexplained “break” in the Liddell-Dodgson friendship. At the show’s end, you are left to decide whether there was anything suspicious about Dodgson’s relationship with the young Alice, with whom he maintained a close friendship for many years.

As in many immersive theatre pieces, no two audience members have the exact same experience. I was pulled away from the group a few times, thereby missing what was later described to me as the “best tea party ever,” hosted by none other than the Mad Hatter. But what I saw in its place was a one-on-one poker match with a magical twist, a chess match to help Alice become Queen, and a journey into a water-filled room where Charles Dodgson gives intimate dictation for a letter to his dear friend, Alice Liddell.

I love immersive theatre, but a common problem I run into as an audience member is that the size and scope of a piece often feel like spectacle for spectacle’s sake and comes at the expense of telling a good, well-rounded story. Well, there’s none of that here. Third Rail Projects has made every element of this production feel absolutely necessary and in service to the narrative. The choreography was not only beautiful to watch, but it propelled thematic elements forward in a way that dialogue could not do alone. Utterly unique in every element of storytelling, Then She Fell is a night at the theatre you will thirst for again and again.

  • Immersive Theater
  • Written, directed, designed, and choreographed by Zach Morris, Tom pearson, and Jennine Willett
  • Produced by Third Rail Project
  • The Kingsland Ward at St. Johns, Brooklyn, New York
  • Until September 2019

About The Author

Reviewer (USA)

Nicole Cardoni is a New York based performer/writer, hailing from Toronto, Canada. She teaches a Film History and Criticism class at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre in Manhattan and performs regularly in various film, television and experimental theatre projects. She is a member of the New York ensemble theatre companies BrickaBrack and PopUP Theatrics. Nicole is a lover of all things narrative, with a warm spot for theatrical new works.

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